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Many would scoff at the very idea of a baby being swept in to a crocodile-infested river, swept away and yet surviving to make the river his home, not least myself among them.  Yet there is a case, albeit with mythological background and overtones, which appears to be documented to have happened in India in the second half of the 20th century.

The story begins in either 1957 or 1958 when a woman named Somni was returning to her home in the village of Baragdava in Utter Pradesh.  She claimed that a huge dark figure loomed up in front of her, threw her to the ground and raped her.  The result was a son, Ramchandra, who was born the following year.  When one year old in 1958 or 1959, Ramchandra fell into the fast flowing and crocodile-infested River Kuano which passes by the village and was swept away.

There is a local legend that a Brahmin, a holy man, had once dug a well near the river and had drowned when he climbed into it to bless it.  Somni claimed the figure who raped her was the spirit of the Brahmin and he had come back to claim his son to go live with him in the river.  Many villagers needless to say dismissed Somni’s fantastical story and the village gossip was that she had thrown the boy into the river due to the shame of bearing a child to another man than her husband, where he had either drowned or been devoured by the crocodiles.

So was the belief for many years, then in 1973 a local priest was walking by the river when he saw a human-like creature apparently walking on the water.  He drew nearer and saw what he claimed was a human boy but with dark, green-black skin.  He observed the creature dive into the water, catch a fish and eat it raw, before lying back and being carried downstream.  Having told everyone, a villager claimed some days later to have seen the same creature.  Thereafter a great many people congregated by the river for some days to catch a glimpse but nothing more was seen and interest soon waned.

Six years later, in 1979, Somni claimed not only to have seen the creature asleep on the riverbank but had got close enough to see what she said was a birthmark exact to that on her missing son, Ramchandra.  A round-the-clock vigil was held on the river and sure enough the creature was seen again.  Moreover, he was apparently captured and taken to the village.  He was described as being like a boy but with a bullet-like head, hard green skin and feet hard as rock, with which he appeared to unable to walk in a normal human fashion, he could not talk, appeared to be deaf, made few expressions but kept putting one hand up to his forehead.  Seemly terrified by this experience, the “fish boy” made a frantic escape back to the river.

The claims are that he did not leave the river however.  Villagers came to believe he was indeed Somni’s lost son and would leave gifts of food on the riverbank for him, which he apparently enjoyed.  He grew to be unafraid of the people and soon hundreds came to watch him take the food, dive for fish, or chew leafy green vegetables.  Details of the Kuano Amphibian Boy appeared in the newspaper Probe India, verifying his existence.

Sadly, the creature, if he was Ramchandra, met with a tragic end.  For some reason in 1982 favour turned against him and he was captured by the villagers, helped by two policemen.  He made another escape and swam to another village, Sanrigar, where he startled a woman who threw a pot of boiling water over him.  He made off back to the water and his dead body was found the following day, scalded and covered in fish bites.

The story seems fantastic and only one photograph (attached) survives and that seems dubious.  Some have claimed that Ramchandra survived due to the no-breathe instinct human babies have.  Others claim that our extra layer of fat which makes us buoyant helped him survive.  That may hold for a short time, but given that Ramchandra was only 1 year old when he was swept away, how would he survive in the long term?  It seems incredulous that a baby, no matter how good a swimmer, could avoid ravenous crocodiles.  Just how did he learn to fend for himself from such an early age?  Feral children are by no means unknown but where a child has survived in the wild, they have been older or have been cared for by other creatures who brought them up as their own.  It seems highly unlikely that schools of fish would have taught a baby how to survive underwater.

Then there are the dates.  The reports read that he was born between 1957-58.  The creature was first seen in 1973 which would make him 15-16.  The newspaper Probe India Investigated six years later, which would have made him 21-22.  Yet the attached photograph shows not a young man but clearly a boy, obviously not old enough for the 1979 sightings.

My own thoughts are that the villagers of Baragdava did indeed capture some kind of river creature, possibly amphibious, which looked human enough to be like a boy.  What I would not like to hazard a guess, but the “bullet head” (not present on the photograph you’ll notice) certainly seems to me to suggest that of a fish held upright.  Whether Somni deliberately threw her son in the river or he fell is open to speculation.  But a mother’s grief can be very powerful; powerful enough for her to wish the creature to be her lost little boy.

Although there is little to nothing on the internet about the Kuoni Aquatic boy, it is a story which keeps propping up now and again in the annals of Forteana and the unexplained, and one which does not seem like disappearing any time soon.

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